Four Nights Loop From Chiang Mai, Navigating By Android Phone

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by Kevin P, Jul 23, 2018.

  1. Kevin P

    Kevin P Member

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    #1 Kevin P, Jul 23, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
    I did this along with a good friend last week, him on a CRF250M and me on a CB300F. I'm sitting here typing this for 2 reasons: firstly I want to share a cracking route, with five good solid days of riding, and secondly because I want to explain how I created the route in Google Mymaps (not to be confused with Google Maps), and followed the route on an Android phone using the maps.me app. I've attached an image of the route and the editable .kml file for you to make use of, if you like.

    1. The route:
    Day 1, Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong - probably the easiest days riding of the whole trip and a nice easy intro. There is a great little bar called Rin Bar in Chiang Khong - enjoy.
    Day 2 Chiang Khong to Nan - includes some awesome roads - you're welcome...
    Day 3, Nan to Uttaradit - this includes the ferry crossing (B150 each and about 10 minutes) and some great roads again, including the big "pointless" but great loop I added in.
    Day 4, Uttaradit to Phayao - excellent days riding BUT, the "road" through the forest section is actually forest tracks (about 40km of them...). We managed fine, but we both ride off road and although it is rainy season and there was some deep mud/big puddle corners it actually didn't rain on the day - if it had we were in trouble! Live and learn... you may choose to reroute this day.
    Day 5, back home to Chiang Mai via a large limestone mountain - it makes the route home way longer, but spectacular views as you approach the mountain, and fun roads through it - not to be missed imho.

    Northern Thailand Loop.PNG

    2. How I made the route and followed it:

    a) Creating the route (needs to be on a computer): this is done in Google Mymaps (Sign in - Google Accounts). create a new map and then click the symbol for "Add directions" - add your starting point and then click somewhere that you want to be your first "waypoint" (destination). This can be any damned thing along the route, just something to force the route to go the way you want. Keep adding waypoints (destinations they are called in Mymaps) until you reach your final destination for the day. If you ever add a waypoint but the route doesn't go the way you want just delete that waypoint and choose another that does force it to go by your desired route. You'll get the hang of it...
    Rinse and repeat for each day.
    Pro tip: You can just put in your start point and final destination for the day, then click on the line to make a "node" and drag the node onto your chosen route, BUT every time you change one thing others revert. I strongly suggest creating NO nodes, but instead do as I described above. Otherwise you will get super frustrated.

    b) Getting the route into maps.me on your phone:
    i) From Google's Mymaps export your route as a .kml file. Now attach that file to an email and email it to yourself.
    ii) Go yo your phone and install maps.me
    iii) Open your email on your phone and click on the .kml attachment to the message you just sent. Choose the option to open in maps.me
    iv) You now have this route as a "bookmmark" in maps.me and can follow the blue line that is show. Note that by clicking the arrow you can choose North is up, or direction of travel is up - choose the latter. When you touch the screen you see a + and a - that allow you to zoom in and out (very useful). There are of course no voice directions, but it is as simple as following the blue brick road... Only one hiccup - maps.me shows direction of travel perfectly when you are moving, but for some reason is incapable of doing so when you are static; it just points randomly. Go figure...

    Enjoy, and you are welcome! :) It took me ages to figure this crap out...
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. GTR-Admin

    GTR-Admin Administrator
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    Hi Kevin - thanks for taking the time to outline your navigation solution. It is really amazing how many free navigation tools are available these days, and interesting to hear how others have solved their trip planning challenges. Although a lot of GT-Riders have used GPS units for many years, I find them to be a pain in the proverbial to use. It has always seemed inordinately difficult to move routes to and from the GPS unit and Google Maps etc.

    But as my grandfather was fond of saying... "There are more ways to kill a cat than drowning it in cream." - whatever that means! 5555

    I take a different approach that is (possibly) easier to build the initial trip route setup, using the browser-based Kurviger - Your Motorcycle Route Planner software on my computer. It takes a bit of figuring out, but you can;
    • Set up basic parameters in terms of type of roads etc
    • Input start, intermediate and end points (there is even a text search on place names if required)
    • Offers the choice of a dozen different base map layers if you want, e.g.: ESRI Street or Topo, Open Street Map etc
    • Reverses the route if required
    • Exports the route in several formats including .GPX and .KML so you can load it into Google My Maps and open that on your phone
    In My Maps on your phone you can then use Google's "Directions / Start" option to follow the route - with audio instructions as/if required.
    • My phone is a 7 inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 6A which gives a good-sized map view in most conditions
    • I only load the route/map to get clarification when I am not sure where to turn at an "ambiguous" intersection
    • I purchased a nifty Bluetooth mini-earpiece that I've paired with my phone and it receives Google Directions audio instructions so even if I can't see the screen in bright sunlight, I can still follow the instructions
    • The Bluetooth earpiece is brilliant when navigating to a "hard to find" hotel, cafe or restaurant in heavy traffic!
    No doubt others will have figured out different solutions to the same problem - whatever works for you is all that matters. :)
     
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  3. Kevin P

    Kevin P Member

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    Hi Ben,
    And thank you for taking the time to give such a comprehensive reply. I shall be trying out your method of creating a map and navigating it for my next trip. I will let you know how it works out. Much appreciated. :)
    Kevin
     
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    That's an impressive ride for a few days = well done.

    What was the best road / ride that you did?

    You could ride around in Nan for a week if you want to, it is so good.
    For some more ideas on roads & rides take a look at this GTR thread on on the "Top Ten" Roads (there's a lot more than ten listed but never mind.

    North Thailand Top Ten Roads

    Last but least if you want to hook up for some GTR dinners, the last Wednesday of the month, some of us brave the elements & drivers to meet up in a small town somewhere.

    Monthly GT Rider Up-Country Dinner Rendezvous Rides

    you're quite welcome to join in. You don't have cto ride with anyone, just make your own way there at your own pace on the route you want to go. Easy peasy. New faces are always welcome.

    Thanks for the contribution.
     
  5. Oddvar

    Oddvar Ol'Timer

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    #5 Oddvar, Jul 27, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2018
    Thanks for sharing.
    I have been using Kurviger for some years and happy with that. It's made by riders and do what riders likes best. Winding roads.
    As Ben mention, easy to change setting and easy to export to any device.
    But always up for testing new software.
    The use of many waypoints make sure that the route you planned on the computer will be same on your device.
    The routing software are different from maker to maker, so always zoom out to se that the route is what you planned.
    Happy riding. :):):)
    And yes, Kurviger has an app for Android as well. Free and paid version.
     
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  6. Kevin P

    Kevin P Member

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    Hi David, to be honest there were so many great roads and genuinely breathtaking views that I am hard pushed to choose - what a luxury... Day 2 was probably the highlight if forced to choose.

    I'd love to join the group for dinner, but unfortunately I suffer from this "work" stuff, so unless one falls within a holiday, or is close(ish) to Chiang Mai, not very easy!

    I have just started a surprisingly popular Facebook group "Chiang Mai Motorcycle Riders" (Log into Facebook | Facebook). Please feel free to post up anything in there/links to gt-rider that might be of interest to the group.

    Ride safe,

    Kevin
     
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  7. Kevin P

    Kevin P Member

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    It's probably time I got back here and said thank you again for putting me on to Kurviger. It really is excellent and I use it for all of my ride planning and route following these days.

    What I also want to mention is that you can now get decent IP68 certified (fully waterproof) phones these days for CHEAP. I love my expensive regular smartphone, but it's useless as a navigation device for half of the year because more often than not it rains at some point as I'm riding through the mountains and I don't want it full of water. I tried putting it in a case, but then it overheats. Hmm... The solution for me has been to spend the grand total of $100 (B3400) on a fully waterproof Chinese phone to use just as my navigation device whilst keeping my shiny jewel of a phone safely in my pocket :)

    I'm super happy with the rugged phone that I have bought - a Guophone! The phone with a Landrover rip-off logo... Classy :) You may never have heard of them but they have made quite a few past phone models and the XP9800 model that I have bought is really rather good - see specs here. Basically, it's fully waterproof, has a big bright high-resolution screen, loud as hell speaker, HUGE battery capacity, and is built like a tank (or a Landrover!). I bought mine off Aliexpress, but you can also find them on eBay.

    The 6,500mha battery is amazing, but comes at the price of a 15mm thick phone that is not light. It's reasonably fast though and really could be your main phone, but that isn't what I have it for. For me it's a cheap Garmin replacement that runs Android and is therefore better than a Garmin as far as I'm concerned; and a hell of a lot cheaper. I did the Mae Wang loop today with the phone not plugged into a USB socket and with the screen set on 3/4 brightness (plenty bright enough). It took 2.5 hours and the phone was still at 67% after all of that time navigating and with the screen on. It should therefore be good for about 7.5 hours without charging - not bad for a hundred bucks. :)

    I am not putting a sim in this phone, so it has no mobile internet connectivity. This is really not a problem - I have downloaded the Kurviger Thailand map onto the phone and before each ride I set up the Kurviger route on the phone at home where there's wifi so that it can do the online route calculation. There is then no need for an internet connection during the ride. The GPS works great in the phone and follows routes accurately, and Kurviger gives turn by turn routing, including spoken directions (if you pay the B300 for the premium version - worth every Baht imho), without need for an internet connection. The speaker in the Guophone is super loud (big phone, big speaker!) so I can actually hear the turn by turn directions unless going at very high speed - really easy to navigate in traffic around town.

    There is even a plus side to having no internet connection... the inability to re-route on the fly means that if you miss a turning it becomes apparent next time you look at the screen, rather than it just re-routing and you following the new route without knowing the re-routing has happened. This once caused me a huge problem coming up from the beach and trying to stay well West of Bangkok. I believe I missed a turning (using maps.me at that time) and the bloody phone re-routed me into Bangkok - a nightmare! This can't happen to me anymore...

    Lastly, I just want to mention that should re-routing really be necessary it will take only a minute for me to pull over, create a Hotspot on my main phone, and get the routing done with my new found internet connectivity.

    Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to share how pleased I am with my Guophone and my new revolution in dry AND wet weather navigation. I'm looking forward to Songkran too - I guess I'll swap the sim over for those few days :)
     
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  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Many thanks for the update. Much appreciated.
    That Mae Wang loop is a beauty alright, isn't it?
    2.5 hours for the loop is pretty damn good time too I must say. You couldn't have stopped for too many photos I reckon.
    Where all the flowers blooming along the way - any Himalayan Cherry trees ?
     

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